An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, UK
Distance: 16 km
Difficulty: Moderate
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 8 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Scilly Isles
  • Size: 237 hectares
  • Terrain: Easy to follow coastal path; mixed grass, sand, rock
  • Access: Scillonian III; plane
  • Height gain: 497 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 101
  • Starting point: Hugh Town Quay
  • Accommodation/food:

    Accommodation on St Mary’s – there is plenty in Hugh Town. Outside of Hugh Town, close to the coastal path,  refreshments can be found at Juliet’s Garden, Porthloo; Old Town; Porth Cressa Beach; and near Pelistry Bay

  • Island Summary:

    The circular walk around the coast of St Mary’s, the first port of call for any visitor to Scilly, is the longest route in the Isles of Scilly. It is a great way to explore the fortifications, ancient village and burial site, fantastic beaches, wonderful granite headlands, heath and woodland of this highly varied island. There are also plenty of swims and pitstops on the way, as well as five further islands that can be accessed at low tide.


  • Look out for:
    • Dolphins surfing the bow wave of the Scillion en-route
    • Halangay Down ancient village
    • Spend more time exploring Harry’s Walls and the Garrison Walls
  • Route description:

    The circular walk on the coast path around St Mary’s starts at the quay in Hugh Town the route passes the outer walls of the Garrison to reach Porth Cressa and then the batteries and cairns around Peninnis Head. Dropping into Old Town provides an opportunity to see Harold Wilson’s grave at the church and to stock up with refreshments at the café. Passing the end of the airport’s runway on Salakee Down is exhilarating, particularly with an impending arrival indicated by a siren. Rounding the Porth Hellick Bay, with its small fishing boats, the chambered cairns can be viewed using a small diversion from the path. Further on, if the tide is low, Toll Island can be accessed if time permits. The Innisidgen cairns are well worth an exploration before heading into the trees of Helvear Down. After passing Bar Point the views of Tresco open up and as you approach the bobbing boats in Hugh Town’s harbour there are opportunities to explore two further islands, Taylor’s Island and Newford Island. Download our route and GPS (from the left hand bar)

  • Getting there:

    Getting to the Isles of Scilly. Scillonian III from Penzance; Skybus flights from Lands End, Newquay and Exeter airports

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